"The title's a blessing and a curse; the trick is to make a good movie."
You've had a great career -- great early films, great films now. But at what point do you wake up and go, 'I guess I'm the go-to guy for your $100 million movie?'
Favreau: What's nice is that I think I could survive a bomb and still work, which is a big deal in your career. Most people aren't at that level, so thanks to "Iron Man" and hopefully this one, I'm at a point where I'm going to be making movies for a while longer. Every morning you wake up, whether you're an actor or a director, you have instilled in you this sense of anxiety that 'If I slip, I get thrown out of the party.' It's true to some extent: Your career is constantly being evaluated; there are lists that the studios make of who's good. Then, are you plugging into an idea that you don't love? I've been very fortunate that I've only worked on projects that I'm passionate about; they've all been things I've loved, and I haven't been compromising -- even for the little films. I've been very blessed to be able to bring all of my passions to bear on the projects that I work on.
'G.I. Joe' sequel will take its mid-summer tentpole slot
Ralph Fiennes continues to explore his dark side
What’s an actor to do after playing “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” the former Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort? Only one role I can think of—Hades, King of the Dead and God of the Underworld.
Ralph Fiennes, after his delicious scenery-chewing stint as the Dark Lord in multiple Harry Potter films, is reprising his role as the Greek God everyone loves to hate in the upcoming sequel to “Clash of the Titans.” This time Fiennes gets some fabulous long locks and loses the Michael Jackson nose. Though they may have similar ambitions, Hades is an absolute Hottie compared to the skeletal Voldemort.
What’s that you say? They’re already making a sequel to the poorly received “Clash of the Titans?” That 2010 film was itself a remake of the cheesy 1981 classic starring Harry Hamlin as Perseus and featuring a distinguished group of paycheck-seeking Greek Gods from Sir Laurence Olivier and Claire Bloom to Dame Maggie Smith. That film epitomized the phrase “It’s so bad it’s good!” and played an important role in movie history as the final film of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. Former sex goddess Ursula Andress played Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and, true to her name, began a torrid affair during the filming with Harry Hamlin, 15 years her junior. She became pregnant and gave birth to their son at the age of 45 (Greek Gods apparently don’t know from fertility issues).
The recent remake featured Sam Worthington (of “Avatar” fame) as Perseus and allowed Fiennes to reunite with his “Schindler’s List” co-star Liam Neeson as those wild-and-crazy brothers, Hades and Zeus. While the original film was not exactly a darling of the critics, the remake fared much worse. Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone" summed it up by calling the film “a sham, with good actors going for the paycheck and using beards and heavy makeup to hide their shame.”
But with a net gross of over $61 million on its opening weekend, and an unbelievable worldwide total of nearly half a billion dollars (mostly from overseas markets), Warners Brothers was hardly going to let a rash of negative reviews put the kibosh on such a guaranteed payday.
Some of the reviews of “Clash of the Titans” criticized the 3D technology that was added after the fact, never a very effective approach. The sequel, which picks up the story of Perseus 10 years later, is being shot in 3D from the get-go, and will be directed by Jonathan Liebesman who most recently helmed “Battle: Los Angeles.” Titled “Wrath of the Titans,” the film will be released on March 30, 2012. Following that film, Ralph Fiennes goes from Hades to yet another super-villain in the next James Bond flick. To avoid permanent typecasting, Ralph, may we suggest a 2013 rom-com opposite Anne Hathaway?
'You feel terrible laughing, but you laugh anyhow.'
With her shock of hair and distinct features, Julianne Moore's possessed of a charm as distinct as her talent -- able to jump from raw, risky indie projects ("The Kids Are All Right," "A Single Man") to big-scale studio diversions fueled by her charisma ("Next," 'The Laws of Attraction"). In "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Moore's the wife whose decision to leave ruins Steve Carrell's world -- and yet, her character's determination may not be as firm or as fully-thought out as it first seemed.
'Crazy, Stupid, Love.' is this really interesting blend, because there's a lot of funny stuff in it, but it all comes form this strong, principled, emotional realism. How tough is it to get that balance?
Moore: It's fun, actually. I have to say, with everything -- all acting -- you're trying to find an emotional truth. The challenge with comedy is to find emotional truth with timing, as they say. The emotional stuff comes naturally if you're seeded in the character and story, but then the fun part is put into kinetic spin on it. I enjoyed that, and sometimes I think tonally life is closer to comedy than it is to tragedy, because we laugh our way through tragedies; we make jokes. It's not as even as our film dramas tend to be. It's exciting and challenging to find that tone in a film.
Do you find in life, as in the best comedies, the funny place is also the dark place?
Moore: Oh God, yes. Absolutely. Somebody was saying something about crying and it being funny -- I said, 'Crying is always funny, believe it or not, if you have some distance from it.' If you remember 'Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,' she's crying in a cab -- she's actually sobbing and sobbing, and you can't stop laughing. You feel terrible laughing, but you laugh anyhow.
Is "based on a board game" now a genre?
Can someone please call me when the Connect Four movie gets greenlit? I’ll just be over here working on my Twister feature film. I also have a really solid idea for a Double Trouble flick, with a special 4D “Pop-o-Vision” gimmick. I’m looking for investors – care to roll the dice with me? Okay, that's more than enough on the puns, I'll lay off until a tiny silver dog comes bouncing over to me and asks if I know where Park Place is located.
Peter Berg has inexplicably made his own board game feature, this one based on the classic Battleship, a game that everyone knows just for its super-fun tagline: “I sink your battleship!” It’s this year’s “I drink your milkshake.” Berg’s “Battleship” follows a wily young Navy boy (Taylor Kitsch) who starts up a secret affair with his superior officer’s (Liam Neeson) daughter (Brooklyn Decker), against Neeson’s wishes and demands. It’s oddly similar to “Armageddon,” but without the asteroids. But don’t think for one minute that there’s not something otherworldly afoot because, ahem, aliens.
That’s right, “Battleship” will not see two standard battleships facing off while beautiful people kiss each other tearfully back on the mainland, it features aliens. Was there not some other existing property that was more applicable for this adaptation? Sea Monkeys or something? However, Berg is definitely on to something here - big explosions! lots of battles! romance! "Battleship" is just the sort of crazy popcorn flick that's perfect to kick off a summer movie season, and it will, when it opens on May 18 of next year.
Penguins still dancing, singing, wondering when human race will catch on
The first "Happy Feet" chronicled little Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), a tone-deaf penguin born into a colony of penguins who expressed themselves through the magic of song. As if the concept of singing penguins was not enough, these penguins also had quite the panache for creating incredibly timely mash-ups of popular songs. Who knew they had XM Satellite Radio in Antarctica? Or that penguins knew how to use radios? In any case, Mumble eventually discovered that, though he could not sing, he could dance, and his talents changed the way his colony saw him – and the way he saw himself. It was, at the very least, a somewhat touching coming-of-age story. And, hey, animated penguins dancing!
So, with that exact same formula, comes "Happy Feet Two," which sees history repeating itself. Mumble and his feathered friends are still singing and dancing, still creating pop song mash-ups, still being oddly plugged into human culture, but now Mumble has a child of his own – young Erik who, big surprise, is adverse to dancing. Will Erik follow in his father’s footsteps and discover his own talents, or will he get caught up by a widespread penguin disaster and a suspect new mentor?
"Happy Feet Two" features voice talent from Wood, Robin Williams, Pink, Elizabeth Daily, Sofía Vergara, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Hank Azaria. George Miller again returns to direct (yes, "Mad Max" Miller, the very same).
"Happy Feet Two" will be in theaters (in 3D, of course) on November 18. Will you be seeing it? Check out the trailer, thanks to Yahoo! Movies, after the break.
Do films have a responsibility to look at difficult topics?
I love going to movies that are pure escapist fun, believe me. There are times when I agree with producer Sam Goldwyn’s comment about films that try to educate viewers: “If I want to send a message, I’ll call Western Union!” I hate when it feels like I’m being hit over the head with a filmmaker’s political point of view (cough-Oliver Stone-cough). But then there are those amazing times at the movies when a film captivates while informing and provoking at the same time. I find this experience especially exciting when the film illuminates actual historical events that need to move out of the shadows and be thrust into a spotlight.
The film “Sarah’s Key,” starring Kristin Scott Thomas, exposes the horrific events of the arrest and deportation of Jews in Paris on July 16-17, 1942. This brutal raid, called the “Vel d’Hiv Roundup,” was conducted NOT by the occupying German forces, but by French police officers under the auspices of the Vichy government. Over 13,000 men, women, and children were forcibly dragged from their homes and shoved into an old indoor bicycling racetrack in the middle of Paris called the Vélodrome d’Hiver (the Winter Velodrome). The deplorable conditions inside the stadium make the post-Katrina New Orleans Superdome look like a luxury resort. The French Jews were eventually transported to an internment camp outside of Paris and then sent by train to Auschwitz where most were murdered.
But this film, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner and based on the best-selling novel by Tatiana de Rosnay, isn’t a straight narrative account of these historic events. A good portion of the story is set in our time. Kristin Scott Thomas plays an American journalist working for a news magazine in Paris. While writing a piece about the Vel d’Hiv Roundup, she begins to unravel a story that involves her own family and ends up having a direct impact on some big decisions in her personal life. Meanwhile, expertly intercut with the modern footage, we see the story of one young French family arrested during the raid. We eventually learn the fate of the different members of this family, especially the little girl named Sarah.
'The Lost Symbol' follows 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels & Demons'
It’s not necessarily a good thing to let your trilogy follow in the steps of, oh say something like Bryan Singer’s first X-Men series. Singer helmed two perfectly good films featuring the superhero mutants before handing the reins of the third film over to Brett Ratner, and we all know how that turned out (short answer – not good). Now Ron Howard is joining the club of directors dropping out on final chapters of set trilogies, as he will not be helming the third Dan Brown film, "The Lost Symbol."
Brown’s books have been adapted for the screen by Howard to tremendous success. "The Da Vinci Code" made over $750 million in 2006, followed by "Angels & Demons" in 2009 (which, though not as popular, still made over $486 million worldwide). "The Lost Symbol" will surely be a mainstream hit, simply by virtue of the popularity of both its cinematic lineage and its wild success in book sales (the novel sold 1 million hardcovers and e-books in the U.S., the UK, and Canada on its first day, which earned it the banner distinction of being the fastest-selling adult novel in history).
So why is Howard dropping out of such a cash cow? Deadline reports that Howard told Sony Pictures' Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton that “he just didn't want to do that thing over and over, the same character and the same stories." That seems like a pretty definitive rejection. Of course, Howard is also certainly busy – he’s still looking for a home for his "Dark Tower" project and he recently signed on to helm an adaptation of Jon Krakauer's "Under The Banner Of Heaven," along with a live-action "Spy vs. Spy."
Sony is now looking for a new director for "The Lost Symbol." Tom Hanks will return as Robert Langdon, and Howard will at least remain on as a producer for the film.
Who would you like to see direct "The Lost Symbol"?